Michigan Department of Agriculture

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A state board is likely to make a decision today on a controversial rule that would end certain legal protections for people raising chickens and other livestock in residential areas.

The rule change would take protections under the state’s Right to Farm Act away from people living in residentially zoned areas. The changes would not outlaw backyard chickens and other livestock.

Josh Larios / Wikimedia

Many small and urban farms could lose the protection of Michigan's Right to Farm Act.

The Act protects farmers against nuisance lawsuits if they follow Michigan's Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPS).

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development wants to exclude farms with fewer than 50 animals from Right to Farm protection if those farms are in areas zoned exclusively residential.

(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner)

State health officials say Michigan has recorded its first human case this year of a potentially serious pig-borne flu virus.

The child who fell ill with H3N2 is recovering.   The child was showing swine at the Berrien County Youth Fair earlier this month.

H3N2 is carried by swine.    When a person catches this flu bug, it’s like any other form of influenza.   The infected person can develop a fever, runny nose or cough.  Also like the regular flu, the symptoms can become serious.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Dozens of objections to Detroit's bankruptcy filed yesterday

Yesterday was the deadline for creditors to file objections to the city of Detroit’s request for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. A flood of objections was filed by unions, pensioners, and others. The objections argued that the city is not insolvent, that it failed to negotiate with creditors in good faith before filing for bankruptcy, and that the filing violates constitutional protections for public pensions. Judge Steven Rhodes will review the claims. He has scheduled an October hearing to determine the city’s eligibility for bankruptcy protection, according to Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett.

Pontiac's financial emergency officially over

Pontiac’s nearly five-year-long financial emergency is officially resolved. The city has made some major changes in the past five years, including cutting the general fund budget by half and merging the fire department with nearby Waterford.

“Emergency manager Lou Schimmel resigned yesterday, saying the city’s financial emergency is ‘resolved.’ But the state will still have a heavy hand in Pontiac’s finances. A Transition Advisory Board appointed by Governor Snyder will have to approve all major budget decisions,” Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek reports.

Restaurants can have outdoor smoking areas under 'smoke-free' law

“The Michigan Department of Agriculture says outdoor smoking areas are OK, as long as employees don’t have to wait on customers in those spaces. That means no food or drinks - unless patrons are allowed to bring them in themselves. Director Jamie Clover Adams says the state’s ‘smoke-free’ law was unclear when it comes to outdoor smoking sections. The Michigan Restaurant Association says it does not expect many establishments to allow smoking in outdoor areas because cutting food and beverage services in those spaces would be too costly for most restaurants,” Jake Neher reports.

William Schmitt / Flickr

Fruit growers and processors in Michigan might get some help in the form of low interest loans if an expected package of bills moves through the legislature.

The loans are aimed at providing relief to those who lost most of their fruit crops after an unusual spring warm spell was followed by extended freezing temperatures.

MLive reports Michigan Department of Agriculture Director Keith Creagh said today the bills would create "five-year low interest loans":

The loans, which will be administered by banks and agricultural lenders, will meet an estimated total economic need of some $300 million in the state’s fruit growing and processing industry, Creagh said while attending the Michigan Food Processing and Agribusiness Summit.

Securing the loan guarantees at a low interest rate of 1 percent or 2 percent could cost the state about $15 million, Creagh said. The 5-year loans would be structured so borrowers would only pay interest in the first two years, he said.

Creagh says he'll also seek federal financial support for Michigan fruit growers and processors.

Can wasps squash the stink bug plague?

Apr 28, 2011

Home is where the heart is. It's also probably where a lot of stink bugs are right now, crawling out from cracks and crevices. They were introduced into Allentown, Pa., from Asia in the 1990s and have been spreading ever since, reaching seemingly plaguelike proportions in the mid-Atlantic states. But an experiment is under way to reintroduce the stink bug to its mortal enemy: a parasitic Asian wasp.

David Lance / USDA APHIS

The Michigan Department of Agriculture has confirmed the presence of invasive brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) in two Michigan counties. The bugs were discovered by students from Michigan State University.

Jennifer Holton is with the Michigan Department of Agriculture. She says the bugs can do damage to the types of fruits and vegetables grown in Michigan. The damage makes them difficult to sell. 

And what is does is... a little bit of character distortion on the fruit, what they refer to as cat facing, and that makes the fruit, or the vegetable, if there may be one, unmarketable for the fresh market.

You can find more information about identifying BMSB at the Michigan Department of Agriculture website.

Holton also suggested never moving firewood and to contact your local Michigan State University extension office if you think you found a brown marmorated stink bug.

-Bridget Bodnar, Michigan Radio Newsroom